We're partnering with Hilton Garden Inn™ to help you bring hospitality into your home with recipes perfect for sharing. Here, we're getting inspiration from their signature flatbreads that kids and adults alike will love. If you want to give these amazing (and amazingly easy to make!) flatbreads a sneak peek before trying them out yourself, head to Hilton Garden Inn™ for a taste.
Growing up, my favorite part of any birthday party wasn't the cake, but the pizza. I'd rather gobble up too many slices of that cheesy-tomatoey goodness (even if it was semi-cold and slightly rubbery) than reach for a piece of cake any day of the week (which, looking back, was probably pretty rare for a little kid).
Today, I still love pizza as much as I did then—if not more. Only when it comes to celebration-worthy pizza (you know, for birthdays...or Friday nights), I much prefer the homemade variety to anything I can order in. Not only does it taste better, but it's also fun to make.
The only problem: My half-size oven can only fit one, maybe two full-sized pizzas at a time, meaning it would take me forever to make enough to serve a crowd. The solution? Flatbread pizza.
Flatbread pizzas work because you can prep them in advance: Whip up a few batches of this easy grilled dough the day or two before your party so they're ready to go. From there, they just need some toppings and a few minutes in the oven before they're ready to serve. Plus, flatbreads are a lot smaller than traditional pies, so you can fit about three on one sheet pan, leaving plenty of room to get creative with different toppings.
And the toppings are the most important part, right? I always like to have a mix of familiar and unique flavor combinations. A classic pepperoni with tons of cheese, tomato sauce, and fresh basil is a must. For an interesting twist on BBQ chicken pizza, I'll top a flatbread with grilled chicken dressed in a whiskey-soy BBQ sauce, sliced red onions, scallions, plus some smoked Gouda to round out the bright, tangy flavors. The most crave-worthy combo, though, is a sweet one: chunks of dark chocolate, smoked almonds, and a generous sprinkle of toasted coconut flakes.
No matter which route you take, you can pop your flatbread in a 350°F oven for five to seven minutes to warm up; feel free to add a minute or two under the broiler (just keep a close eye on it) if you want your cheese extra bubbly.
Use these ideas as inspiration, or better yet, let your guests make their own as part of the festivities. You can guide them by laying out the ingredients for those three combinations, or pick a mix of cheeses (mozzarella, fontina, Gruyere, and ricotta are great places to start), meats (pepperoni, sausage, grilled chicken, for starters), fresh and cooked vegetables (maybe sliced tomatoes, raw and caramelized onions, crisp bell peppers), and herbs and sauces (like basil, pesto, and BBQ sauce). The sky's the limit.
Building a flatbread isn't just for adults, either—it actually makes a great activity for a kid's party, so long as tiny hands stay away from hot ovens. In fact, I tried this at my seven-year-old cousin's birthday and it was a hit amongst all her second-grade friends and the parents alike. This should have come as no surprise, considering how quickly I used to devour those takeout slices myself at that age. But if I had been offered something as deliciously fresh and cheesy as these flatbreads back in those days, odds are I would have inhaled the whole pie without thinking twice—and definitely without sharing.
Take your next celebration—or weeknight!—up a few notches with these easy, totally customizable flatbreads. In partnership with Hilton Garden Inn™, where you can find a lineup of flatbreads for every taste, we're sharing recipe ideas, tips, and videos to help you take the hospitality home with you. From Instagram-worthy cheese boards to a crowd-friendly breakfast (hint: It's French and toasty!), there are so many ways to entertain, and Hilton Garden Inn™ is here to help you pull them off without a hitch.
Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.